Harrison Tweed and the Family Plot

While others brag of their plans for their last summer before high school, Harrison Tweed dreads his own: sent to stay at his paranoid aunt’s crumbling house in a backwater town while his travel-writer parents tour the world “without support, without a net” — and without him.

When troubled teen Harrison Tweed outwits his injured aunt’s attackers, he escapes alone across the country, to seek an uncle he’s never met and uncover a past of lies, ghosts and occult murder while learning family secrets that could either save his life, or end it.

This is how it starts:

Harris stared at nothing at all, and he especially did not stare at the straight blond hair of the talkative girl at the next desk. He paid no attention to the deep green sweater fuzz that waved like a forest of sea kelp, back and forth at the bottom of her skinny and freckled neck. Stupid, stupid Olivia was blabbing away again, waggling her pointed jaw like some skinny pterosaur in tight pants while putting on a fresh coat of shiny, pink lipstick and assuming that everyone within earshot hung on every word. “I just adore summer, don’t you? We’re spending the whole vacation at our hacienda, and it’ll be warm and sunny every day. You just have to come and visit!”

Hacienda. Who the hell uses words like that? Someone who has a beach palace in Mexico, that’s who. Harris didn’t respond. But then, she wasn’t speaking to him. She never did. He squirmed in his seat to keep from scratching at a paper cut, afraid of looking like he had some freaking skin disease. But the other kids weren’t looking—they were too busy hollering and tossing balled-up paper at the ceiling as the final bell rang. Harris just eased lower in his chair and hunched his shoulders, picking at a scraggly line carved into the wooden desk.

When most of the shouting passed out of the classroom, he grabbed his backpack and merged into the noisy hallway. All around him, school kids bounced and jabbered. A knuckle-dragging caveman knocked into him and yelled, “Out of the way, T-Wad.”

Apes. Any second now, they’ll start flinging poo. Harris shuffled aside, trying not to get slammed into the lockers.

A crappy end to a lousy school year. Freckles became pimples. Dark hair sprouting up everywhere, stinky pits and embarrassing crackles in his voice. Just when he wanted to fade into the background he stood out like a freak, with a tall body that seemed remote-controlled by someone who wanted to ruin his life. He rolled his shoulders forward and avoided eye contact. Harris muttered, “Glad to get out of this place.” Last time to walk out of this building before starting high school. He wouldn’t miss it.

No one should have heard him over all the stamp and bang, but Lacey dogged his footsteps, and her high-pitched voice cut through the crowd. “Me too. Let’s get out of here.” He just grunted, carried along with the crowd of kids streaming from the building like rats from a fire. Lacey was gone by the time he turned around.

Pink and white summer announcements whirled across the parking lot, paper tornadoes that were crumpled, stomped and ignored. For the kids knocking into him, the long summer break meant games in the streets, bicycles and adventure. Vacations on sandy beaches. But for Harrison Cheviot Tweed, summer sucked.